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Category Archives: J13

The Effect of Marriage on the Wages of Americans: Gender and Generational Differences

By William Song and Theresa Tong

A substantial body of literature on the wage effects of marriage finds that married American men earn anywhere from 10% to 40% higher wages than unmarried men on average, while married American women earn up to 7% less than unmarried women, even after controlling for traits such as background, education, and number of children. Because this literature focuses heavily on men born in a single time period, we study both men and women in two different generational cohorts of Americans (Baby Boomers and Millennials) from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth to examine how the wage effects of marriage differ between genders and across time. Using a fixed effects approach, we find that Millennial women—but not Baby Boomer women—experience an increase in wages after marriage, and we replicate the finding from the literature that men experience an increase in wages after marriage as well. However, after controlling for wage trajectory-based selection into marriage by using a modified fixed effects approach that allows wage trajectories to vary by individual, we find that the wage effects of marriage are no longer statistically significant for any group in our data, suggesting that the wage differences between married and unmarried individuals found in previous studies are primarily a result of selection.

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Advisors: Professor Marjorie McElroy, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: C33; D13; J12; J13; J22; J30

The Effect of Early Life Economic Conditions on Child Health in Post-Soviet Russia

By Hemal Pragneshbhai Patel

The effect of the economic collapse on health has been extensively documented in Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The proportion of stunted children in Russia increased substantially in this period, but no study has investigated the mechanisms by which this economic collapse impacted child health outcomes. This paper uses an OLS regression followed by a Binder-Oaxaca decomposition to determine the specific economic factors that significantly contributed to this decrease in child heights.

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Advisors: Professor Charles Becker | JEL Codes: I1; I14; J13

Family Leave and Child Care Policy Across States: Implications for Labor Force Participation Over Time

By Kelly Albert

This paper investigates the impact of child care subsidies, maternity and paternity leave policy, and Earned Income Tax Credits on labor force participation rates at the state level, utilizing data sets from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Current Population Survey. Results suggest labor force participation increased with federal maternity and paternity leave, increased child care subsidy expenditures, and Earned Income Tax Credits. Head Start expenditures, state maternity leave, and Temporary Disability Insurance have negative impacts. These findings have wider policy implications; altering combinations of family leave and child care policy could help improve employment outcomes of parents.

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Advisors: Dr. Hugh Macartney, and Dr. Grace Kim | JEL Codes: J13, J18, J22

Sister competition and birth order effects among marriage-aged girls: Evidence from a field experiment in rural Bangladesh

By Stephanie Zhong

Early marriage before the age of 18 is prevalent among adolescent girls in Bangladesh, but the timing of marriage is not uniform across daughters within a household, with some sisters marrying earlier than others. Using survey data from a novel field experiment from rural Bangladesh, I find that girls ages 10-21 with lower birth order tend to be married at a younger age, even when controlling for confounding nature of household size on birth order. Additionally, girls with younger sisters are more likely to be married and at a younger age than girls with younger brothers. The findings on dowry are inclusive.

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Advisors: Dr. Erica Field and Dr. Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D13, J13, O15

24K Magic: Evidence on Maternal Asset Ownership and Children’s Long Term Outcomes in Indonesia

By Maya Durvasula

Household resource allocation in response to economic shocks is of central importance for policy makers, especially given widely documented evidence of gender biases. In this paper, I exploit a
plausibly exogenous shock to maternal asset holdings in Indonesia to examine gender biases in resource allocation in the wake of the 1998 East Asian Financial Crisis. Using insights from
anthropology, I separate assets in the hands of women from those controlled by men and interpret findings in the context of a household decision-making framework that allows preferences of parents to differ. Taking household-specific heterogeneity into account with fixed effects, I find significant evidence of efforts to shield male children from the effects of the crisis in both contemporaneous educational attainment and longer-term labor market outcomes, a remarkable trend given minimal evidence of a pro-son bias in Indonesia prior to the crisis. Finally, inferring preferences from maternal resource allocation, I find suggestive evidence of an old age security motive in women’s investment decisions.

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Advisor: Duncan Thomas | JEL Codes: D13, I0, J13, J16

Job Choices, Flexibility and Maternal Labor Force Participation

By Samantha Cox

While there are countless studies concerning the effects of various variables on female labor force participation, there are still many unexamined intricacies involved in a woman’s choice to enter, re-enter or leave the work force. This paper attempts to extend on previous research and examine how the flexibility of a woman’s job influences her return to work after the birth of her first child. The findings support the results found in previous models which find a relationship between family size, hourly wage rate, other household income and age at first birth. The results further sought to address the elusive concept of culture’s effect on a woman’s labor decisions by using the woman’s religiosity. Most intrical to this research is the creation of two flexibility indices, one regarding occupation choice and one regarding industry choice, and the varying effect of these variables as well as the aforementioned explanatory variables over time. Using hazard analysis, a positive, significant relationship was established between the flexibility indices and the dependent variable when the influence of time was held constant. Also found was a positive relationship linking the likelihood of a woman returning to work after the birth of her first child, considering she has not already done so, with the interaction of the flexibility indices over time. Only the term interacting with the industry index was found to be significant.

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Advisor: Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: D1, J13, J24 | Tagged: Economics, Hazard/Survival Models, Industry, Labor Decisions, Maternity, Occupation, Women

The Nurture Effect: Like Father, Like Son. What about for an Adopted Child? A Study of Korean-American Adoptees on the Impact of Family Environment and Genes

By Suanna Seung-yun Oh

I investigate the influences of family environment and genes on children’s educational outcomes by working with data on Korean American adoptees and their non-adoptive siblings. I make use of the natural experiment setting where children were quasi-randomly assigned to families. From Sacerdote’s discussion of the three different approaches of analyzing the data, I derive a single-equation model that encompasses the three approaches as a few of its specific cases. The first part of my analysis identifies the causal effect of being assigned to a certain family environment. The second part of my analysis looks into causes of the differences between the educational attainment of adoptees and biological children, adding to the economists’ discussion on the relative importance of nature and nurture.

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Advisor: Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: J, J12,J13, J24 |  Tagged: Adoption, Child Development, Education, Environmental Influence

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